Cambridge spin-out receives £2.2 million to help improve cancer treatments

Scanning electron microscopy of highly crystalline metal-organic framework nanoparticles


Vector Bioscience has received a £2.2 million investment to help it take forward its drug delivery platform designed to make RNA cancer therapies more effective.

The spinout from the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology has been awarded this funding by the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) ‘Transition Challenge’ investment programme which supports the development and commercialisation of innovative technologies.

This capital will allow Vector to develop its novel RNA delivery platform, increasing the safety, specificity and effectiveness of RNA therapies. The technology builds on more than 15 years of research in innovative materials and drug delivery by Professor David Fairen-Jimenez and his team.

Fairen-Jimenez, who is also Chief Executive Officer at Vector Bioscience, says: “RNA-therapies are, potentially, the most powerful cancer drugs. However, their targeted delivery remains a challenge. Our preliminary studies in vitro and in vivo have showcased the outstanding possibilities of our platform, leading to excellent efficacies with outstanding biocompatibility. Now, the EIC ‘Transition Challenge’ funds will help us take these discoveries to the clinic.”

Vector’s platform improves the targeted delivery of macromolecules – particularly RNA delivery. The technology is based on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), nanoparticles that carry RNA molecules to their targets. MOFs have a number of advantages as a delivery mechanism: they offer controlled release of the RNA macromolecules, improving safety and selectivity. They also protect the RNA from degradation and increase their solubility and bioavailability.

Vector’s technology has shown promising results treating complicated cancers, including hard-to-treat tumours in the brain, lung and pancreas.

Established in 2021, Vector Bioscience has already been awarded £500k from Innovate UK. Now, with the additional investment from the EIC, it is in a position to design and develop its RNA delivery platform, with applications across different diseases. 

Lluna Gallego-Segrelles, Chief Operating Officer at Vector Bioscience, adds: “Within just 18 months, we have attracted over £3 million in funding to commercialise our technology. This demonstrates there’s an immense interest around our drug delivery platform, which will bring the latest innovations in materials science to the pharmaceutical industry and the clinic. Now, our objective is to push our pioneer treatments into pre-clinical phases.”

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